Truck over­charg­ing must end

The un­war­ranted costs free- for- all at in­dus­try’s ex­pense must cease

Australian Transport News - - Contents - Ge­off Crouch is Chair of the Aus­tralian Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion

Costs free-for-all at in­dus­try’s ex­pense must end

T rucks are crit­i­cal to Aus­tralia’s sup­ply chains. A sig­nif­i­cant ma­jor­ity of non-bulk do­mes­tic freight is car­ried on roads, and the Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion has found that only 10 to 15 per cent of the freight task is con­testable across both rail and road. With­out trucks there is no sup­ply chain.

But govern­ments are build­ing in in­creas­ing costs on these sup­ply chains, im­pos­ing cost bur­dens on our abil­ity to ex­port and im­port goods.

Ad­di­tional cost bur­dens on trucks are noth­ing more than a bar­rier to lo­cal jobs.

Toll road charges for trucks are grow­ing rapidly. Small truck­ing busi­nesses sim­ply can­not af­ford them.

These charges are set by state govern­ments and the ar­range­ments for set­ting them are not trans­par­ent. They do not take into ac­count costs across the sup­ply chain.

There is also a prob­lem with in­creas­ing land­side port charges.

Ear­lier in 2017, DP World uni­lat­er­ally in­creased the in­fra­struc­ture sur­charge at its Mel­bourne ter­mi­nal and im­posed a new sur­charge of $ 21.16 per con­tainer at its Port Botany ter­mi­nal.

ATA mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tion Road Freight NSW pointed out that the Port Botany sur­charge could cost car­ri­ers up to $150,000 per year.

Sep­a­rately, Pa­trick in­creased its ex­ist­ing sur­charges in July, and in­tro­duced a $ 4.76 sur­charge per con­tainer at its Fre­man­tle ter­mi­nal and a $ 25.45 sur­charge per con­tainer at its Port Botany ter­mi­nal.

These charge in­creases can­not be avoided by truck­ing op­er­a­tors; they have not been sub­ject to de­tailed reg­u­la­tory scru­tiny; they sim­ply build ad­di­tional costs into Aus­tralia’s sup­ply chains.

To fi x these prob­lems, heavy ve­hi­cle tolls and land­side port charges should be set by a road price reg­u­la­tor, which should ul­ti­mately be the ACCC or a ded­i­cated body es­tab­lished un­der its Act.

Such a reg­u­la­tor should be es­tab­lished by the Aus­tralian Govern­ment’s agenda for in­de­pen­dent price reg­u­la­tion of heavy ve­hi­cle charges.

The Govern­ment also needs to act on fi xing the over­charg­ing of truck and bus op­er­a­tors for the use of the road net­work.

Op­er­a­tors pay for their use of the roads through a fuel-based road user charge, ad­min­is­tered as a re­duc­tion in their fuel tax cred­its, and very high reg­is­tra­tion charges.

It is meant to be a cost-re­cov­ery mech­a­nism, but with­out re­form it’s noth­ing more than a road tax.

The Na­tional Transport Com­mis­sion, an in­de­pen­dent govern­ment body, found that this sys­tem over­charged truck and bus op­er­a­tors.

In­stead of re­duc­ing charges, govern­ments de­cided to freeze heavy ve­hi­cle charges at 2015-16 lev­els un­til July 1, 2018. Based on NTC fi gures, the de­ci­sion will over­charge truck and bus op­er­a­tors $250.2 mil­lion in 2016-17 and $ 264.8 mil­lion in 2017-18 – $ 515 mil­lion in to­tal.

The over­charg­ing will con­tinue be­yond 2017-18 with the me­ter tick­ing up by more than $ 725,000 per day.

Govern­ments have not yet agreed on how to deal with this prob­lem. As a down pay­ment on fu­ture re­form, govern­ments must ad­dress and re­solve the over­charg­ing.

Such re­form would de­liver fair reg­is­tra­tion and road user charges, and should be ex­tended to reg­u­late toll road and land­side port charges.

We need fair charges for trucks, so we can max­imise the com­pet­i­tive­ness of Aus­tralia’s sup­ply chains.

“We need fair charges for trucks”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.